The Climate Positive Development Learning Program: The Value of Knowledge-Sharing

The C40/CCI Climate Positive Development Program (CPDP) recently held its first Learning Program hosted by Stockholm Royal Seaport Innovation, an initiative of the city of Stockholm. The event – which embodies the organizing and networking ability of the C40 -- connected representatives from 12 large-scale urban development projects across 5 continents to share best practices and lessons learned. The program also brought the developers together with expert practitioners from organizations such as Scandinavian Biogas, Fortum, Arup, and Ericsson, thanks in part to support from Vinnova, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems.

Inspiration for the Learning Program event came from CPDP and Stockholm Royal Seaport Innovation, both of whose missions center on the value of knowledge-exchange. For its part, Stockholm Royal Seaport Innovation aims to change the way the city of Stockholm grows by providing a forum for innovation, research, and cooperative learning on sustainable urban development; while CPDP supports 16 urban development projects around the world by offering a platform for collaboration and technical exchange.

Discussion round-up

The Learning Program commenced with project presentations, creating a foundation for collaboration and deeper dialogue on a range of topics from transportation and sustainable energy to efficiency measures and green rating systems. The event gathered momentum after a hands-on site visit to the iconic urban development Hammarby Sjöstad, which demonstrated various sustainable systems at work in an urban setting. Participants commented that the visit provided insights into their own project efforts to address aspects such as district energy, waste and water management, and parking strategies to reduce congestion.

A site visit to the Envac District Waste Facility at Hammarby Sjostad Discussions were especially intense on the subject of community-scale carbon accounting and metrics, where there is not yet a universally-accepted approach. In its work with world-leading developments, the CPDP is helping to create an accounting system that is both robust and flexible; and this effort will inform C40’s larger collaboration with ICLEI to establish a global standard for accounting and reporting community-scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Improving metrics was not the only program-wide effort under discussion. CPDP is also seeking to strengthen its institutional capacity to document lessons and share them across the network and with city officials. To this end, CPDP today announced a new intranet platform that will connect projects across time zones and create faster, customized channels of communication.

“The Climate Positive Development Program is premised on the importance of sharing best-practices and allowing development partners to learn from those who have already grappled with similar problems,” reflected Seth Schultz, Director, Climate Positive Development Program . “We need to support that aspiration in meaningful ways. The learning program event is an important step. I believe the development partners who attended will leave motivated to turn the ideas discussed into action, utilizing the tools and processes shared this week on their own projects. But this type of sharing needs to happen on a regular basis. Our intranet site does that: it connects developers and cities with the latest information and allows them to identify the help they need.”

Program participants gather at Stockholm's City Hall Despite facing different regional challenges and operating in diverse market conditions, development representatives were able to use the Learning Program event to find common ground – most notably the shared goal of addressing the sources and impacts of climate change and creating a framework for measuring the carbon equivalent of each Climate Positive Development Project.  "Carbon equivalent is the universal language we all share” noted Kheay Loke, representing Treasure Island in San Francisco. “Strategies that reduce carbon in a development project in one country can have a beneficial effect on climate change all over the globe. We’re all in this together.”

A look ahead

CPDP expects to convene a second Learning Program event in 2012, when project and city representatives will share new lessons in a series of topical charrettes, in order to help one another move closer to becoming “Climate Positive” communities that reduce operational emissions to below zero.